by Allison Kooser | May 12, 2022 | +Good Newsletter, Copywriting, Marketing, The Intro, Work Smarter
One of the first projects our Chief Strategist, Ian, completed as a young marketer was a how-to guide for MySpace. It was a PowerPoint. And he printed it to show his team. (I think this is where the kids say something like, “Ok, boomer.”)
The simple reality is that we’ve been at this digital marketing game for a long time.
And over the last 15 years, we’ve created a LOT of content.
Blogs, infographics, social media, web pages, articles, thought leadership…if you’re anything like us, you’re sitting on a treasure trove of great material that you have already created.
Yet our impulse is still to create something new. To come up with the next great idea. To start over. And start over. And start over again.
Why do more work when you can, instead, do more efficient work? And why reinvent the wheel when you have a perfect circle within arm’s reach?
The reality is that most of your audience doesn’t remember your content.
Sad, but true.
And if your audience is growing (we’d love to help you do this, btw), then the new people on your email list weren’t around to receive that awesome message three years ago. They didn’t see it at all.
At every conference we’ve ever been to, the “experts” tell us one thing, over and over: Create engaging content. We always laugh at that because, duh, but also, they’re right. Good content is marketing magic—it’s why we built a storytelling agency. But we’d like to add to their advice: Create engaging content. And keep using the content you’ve created.
If you’re looking for easy, accessible content to share, chances are you already have it.
So how do you make use of the amazingness at your fingertips?
You need to do a content audit.
Spend time evaluating the material you already have, and start answering these questions:
- What is still working for you? These are the pages that are still getting lots of traffic and the pieces that are still getting used, so make sure the data and stories presented are accurate! Also, make sure these pages and pieces have logical next steps—where does a donor or prospect go after reading it?
- What ISN’T working? In the wise words of Marie Kondo, if a piece of content isn’t bringing you joy anymore, it might be time to let it go. Or rewrite it. Or start over.
- What could be working better? This is our favorite question! What are the stories in your arsenal that are interesting but unread? What blogs still work, especially if you were to spend five minutes updating them? What long-form articles could be parsed into a full month of social content? What can you re-share, re-post, or re-work?
As you approach that last question, here are a few easy ways to get started:
- Throwback Thursday. Post an old story in its entirety—no extra work required!
- Repost your long-form. With well-researched long-form content, take the time to edit and update the information presented. Then repost the blog or article with an “updated” date—voila: new content. The SEO crawlers will love you.
- Parse a blog into social. A full blog might not be super relevant anymore, but chances are high that you could find one or two sound bites that might be great social posts! As we always tell young writers, plagiarize yourself! If you’ve done the work, you can reuse it across channels!
- Milk a piece for all its worth. Did you write a great impact report? Awesome. Now post it online. Pull five social posts out of the content. Turn it into a listicle. Independently share the infographics. Work smarter, not harder. You have so much existing content available to you!
You can breathe life into old content—and Swell+Good is here to help. We conduct content audits for many of our clients, helping them identify what’s working, what’s not, and what could be. Then we help them turn the materials they have into a robust content calendar that is bursting with powerful stories.
Want to learn more? Shoot us an email, we would love to talk to you!
by Kerry Jones | May 3, 2022 | Copywriting, Marketing, Social Media
There’s a reason you listen to podcasts your friends recommend. There’s a reason that you ask to “speak to a representative” when you get an automated voicemail. There’s a reason your boss asks for references and your politicians run door-to-door campaigns:
People trust information when it comes from people.
It may seem obvious—nobody likes propaganda, impersonal video ads, or yelling monosyllabic commands at an answering machine. But nonprofit marketers underestimate the power of human voices for human messages, especially when it comes to their nonprofit’s social media strategy.
With the rise of the influencer economy, the ethical tilt to product marketing, and relationship-focused branding, it’s clear that the social media milieu is moving towards maximized personalization. Have you noticed how car commercials now sell family vacations instead of extra cup holders? Perhaps unsurprisingly, it sells to talk to customers like the people they are.
For a nonprofit organization, telling stories with honesty, personality, and humanity is critical in every step of your communication strategy. Here are the best ways to craft humanized social copy made by real people (you!) and for real people (your community!).
1. Match your marketing to your message
With so much going on in the day-to-day of a typical nonprofit, social media strategy can often fall to the wayside. Without a concerted effort, it’s easy for nonprofits to make their own (incredible, powerful, transformative) impact sound lifeless in a post. So what needs to change? What makes written words sound human?
- Write with emotion. How does your cause make you feel? Frustrated? Inspired? Overwhelmed? Hopeful? All of the above? Add a dose of that to your copy. Meet your reader in the world of emotion and channel the feelings they experience when learning about your work.
- Write to your audience. People speak differently to their boss than they do to their best friends—so know who you’re speaking to. What vocabulary is unique to them? What tones do they respond to?
- Write with kindness toward imperfection. Sometimes we forget to donate. Sometimes we are uninformed about issues. Sometimes we recycle incorrectly. Make sure your reader knows you aren’t perfect, either; they’ll appreciate your kindness and feel open to your call to action.
Looking for an example? Girls Computing League does a great job bringing their unique voice to their Instagram. Working to bridge the gender gap in STEM fields, they provide scholarships to girls in STEM and invest resources for girls in low-income schools.
Their account vibrates with life by speaking directly to girl coders and the people who support them. Posts include TikToks using popular sounds to talk about being underestimated by men in their field, posts on STEM women in history, or educational posts on writing a professional email. Their excitement about women in STEM industries is palpable in the voice of frustration, sass, and encouragement in each post.
2. Promote messages that vibe with your values
Want people to recognize your name? Start with helping them recognize your values.
Whether you care about climate justice, ending world hunger, or arts programs in schools, the good news is you are not the only one who cares. Reels, stories, and infographics are great tools for cross-promotion with the people, organizations, and brands fighting the same fight.
Repost your amazing donors’ content. The Karam Foundation reposted a story from a donor who supported them with a marathon fundraiser. St. Jude pinned a video on their TikTok celebrating accounts that link to their fundraising page in their bio. Appreciating current donors? Check. Demonstrating support to new donors? Double-check.
Link to organizations doing similar work. Urban Indigenous Collective cares about supporting Indigenous people, so this post with links to the American Indian College Fund was a great way to demonstrate their values. It establishes their account as a place for UIC content, but also as a bulletin board for organizations supporting Indigenous people.
Promote your partners. Are local businesses helping you with an upcoming event? Do companies donate to your cause with the purchase of select items? Girls Inc. benefits from purchases made at Macy’s and Thinx and celebrates these partnerships with posts like this.
3. Show us what success looks like
Repeat donors feel connected to the story of your impact—and they want to continue being a part of it. Compared to emails and newsletters, social media tends to be more visual and interactive—so it’s a great place to make your impact more visual and interactive, too!
Mercy Corps posted about a Ukrainian refugee family’s journey and the medical supplies, food, cash, and support they were able to give them. Notably, this post doesn’t use pity to tell their story in an undignified way but instead shows the family’s journey and the agency they display as they plan their next steps. Kudos to you, Mercy Corps.
Organizations like Hand on Heart WWP, which serves people experiencing homelessness, also do a great job of showing their impact. It’s not respectful to take pictures of vulnerable unhoused people, so Hand on Heart posts photos of large piles of sleeping bag donations and care packages instead. Other houseless aid groups often lean on pretty infographics of their impact stats, but they can feel hollow, making donations feel less tangible. Hand on Heart owes its social media success to videos like this that put donors in the room with the amazing resources they purchase.
4. Tell us what happens behind the scenes
We love the design and polish you put into your infographics, your videos, and your curated color scheme. But sometimes, your produced facade hides your real story. For donors who want to know that your nonprofit is legit, trustworthy, and effective, try these posts to help pull back the curtain.
- Give us a tour of your facility. Show off your youth center, your animal shelter, your school, or your office! Even if it’s messy or busy or chaotic, donors want to see where the magic happens. The Cattery cat shelter has a beautiful TikTok tour of their facility that shows off all the ways they provide for their furry friends.
- Introduce your team. Whether through a video interview, a post, a story, or a TikTok, donors want to know your volunteer coordinators, your accountants, and your CEO. You can talk about why they are special to your operations (“Diana is the master of managing receipts”) or what they do on the side (“Diana’s two dogs, Lucky and Frankie, have been with her for ten years. It’s no coincidence she is so passionate about animal rights.”) If you have confidence in your team’s work, donors will too. This ”meet our team” post from Site Design Group does a great job of introducing their staff.
- Introduce your board members. If your website’s board member bios feel a little tired, try this approach. Post about your board members in action: photos of them with the family they mention in their bio, working with your volunteer team, or answering fun questions relevant to your mission. Massachusetts Avenue Project has creative “Meet the Board” posts on their Facebook page.
- Product tour. If your nonprofit donates products like hygiene care packages or boxes of books, show donors what they look like! Tell us about your materials, your delivery style, and what makes your products valuable and unique. Days for Girls, a menstrual health NGO, uses the highlight feature on Instagram to explain the features of the DFG pad and what comes in their full kit.
- Day in the life. TikTok “day-in-the-life” videos are really popular right now—and they can be great for a nonprofit to show off how you spend your time and where donations go. What does a day in the life look like for a community organizer? A youth leadership camp counselor? An animal shelter staff worker? What would surprise people about the work you do all day? Community Action Partnership has a great day-in-the-life TikTok showcasing how their Health Coordinators support their community. Check out a few nonprofits we love following on TikTok.
- Sneak peeks as you prep for events. If you want to boost excitement for an upcoming event, “sneak peek” posts are a great way to drum up anticipation. If you’ve got an auction at your gala, show off the prizes people can bid on. If you have a tree planting event for Earth Day, show off the saplings that need a new home! Give donors the inside scoop about how your event space is looking, how excited your staff is, and all the fun bonuses they can look forward to. United Way of Greater Baytown Area made a Facebook post leading up to their Volunteer Appreciation Awards to get people excited.
It’s not hard to be human, but it does take intentionality.
Humanizing your nonprofit’s social media doesn’t have to be hard, but it does take effort. Luckily, it’s worth it—both to build community and foster ongoing support. Speaking to current and prospective donors like real people will make it easier to create and foster long-term relationships, connect with your supporters, and spark even more impact for your mission! Win win win.
by Ian Haisley | Sep 10, 2021 | +Good Newsletter
1. The important difference between personal content 👍 and personalized content.
Spoiler: one is more effective than the other. Personalized content is content unique to the user. Personal content is content that uses info about their user to address a need and create an experience. Your name on an email is personalized. A restaurant preparing your favorite cake for your birthday meal is personal. Can you guess which content keeps your donors coming back for more?
Personal content experiences matter more than personalized content. [via Content Marketing Institute]
2. Choose the best pillar page content. 📈
Pillar pages are huge drivers of web traffic. Full of long-form content that uses links to guide users to more info about a topic, pillar pages help you up your impact by grouping topics to attract Google searches. Want to create pillar pages that bring the clicks? Become the master of your web topic and drive users to your page with this easy guide on pillar page strategy.
How to choose pillar page topics. [via MOZ]
3. Get noticed on Google Discover—the tool other sites are overlooking. 👀
Try Google searching something on your phone—do you see a list labeled “Interesting Finds” at the bottom? Those personalized articles you didn’t search for? Those are your Google Discover results, tailored to your online habits and search trends. Think of it like Google’s version of Facebook’s feed. Not a bad place for your website to be featured—and now you can learn how to get there.
Find out how to make your mark in Google Discover. [via MOZ]
4. The 11 principles of design 🎨 everyone can learn.
It doesn’t take a designer to look at a digital product and notice something’s a bit off. When the text is too large, the colors are too loud, or the page is too crowded, your user will notice—even if they’re not designers either. The good news is that you can use easy principles of design to guide you as you create something new. (Yes, even if you aren’t a designer.)
Get the 11 principles of design (and learn how to use them). [via dribble]
5. Instagram is retiring the 📱 swipe up.
Listen up, nonprofits: Your Insta stories are about to get a makeover! Instagram announced recently that it will be launching a new feature to replace the swipe-up method of navigating to external sites. Get ready for link stickers—and keep using social media to drive traffic back to your website.
Instagram is retiring the swipe up. [via The Verge]
by Ian Haisley | Aug 22, 2021 | +Good Newsletter
1. To start working, embrace what isn’t working. 🤨
If you have a problem acknowledging you have a problem, you’re not alone. But facing your organization’s weak spots is the best way to prepare to solve them! Learn how to compassionately fix what isn’t working so you can focus more of your attention on what is.
Embrace your less-than-perfectness. [via Social Velocity]
2. What can you learn from the story of the Coca-Cola 🥤 logo?
The success of Coca-Cola is not just the story of a bit of luck behind a good product (or a potentially stolen recipe, but we digress…). It’s one that involves a creative marketing push to merge both the timeless and the modern. We love when history makes our current work better, so dive into the details about how Coca-Cola became the iconic beverage it is today.
The story of the Coca-Cola logo. [via Logo Design Love]
3. How to pick the right 🎨 color.
There’s a reason we don’t usually wear neon to funerals, white after Labor Day, or that one blue tie with that clashing blue blazer. Colors tell stories—and when they’re used thoughtfully, colors can prompt emotions in others. So why not harness that power in your marketing? Dive into a rainbow of color tools to help with color scheme generation, data visualization, historical color palettes, contrast checking, and much more!
Color tools and resources. [via Smashing Magazine]
4. Is your Instagram marketing strategy getting stale? 🤔
We know, it still feels like Instagram is a “new” platform. (Eep, yes. We’re old.) But with Instagram Live, IGTV, and new options for sharing to your story, marketing on Insta is no longer just curated pictures and old filters. Luckily, Social Media Examiner pulled together a list of tips and inspiration to keep your content ✨fresh✨ for modern users. Learn the new strategies that are working in 2021 to keep people engaged with your feed, your stories, your highlights, and your brand!
What’s working on Instagram in 2021. [via Social Media Examiner]
5. How to optimize 💪 your on-page SEO.
Good SEO helps search engines read content and good writing helps humans read content—so why not do both at the same time! Learn how to implement meta-tags, format your content, and optimize your keywords so that you catch the attention of all of your readers—humans and computers alike!
3 Powerful on-page optimizations to power up your content. [via MOZ]
by Ian Haisley | May 28, 2021 | +Good Newsletter
1. Give your customers a 🗺 map.
Sixty-five percent of customers say they’d keep buying from a brand that gives them a great experience during their customer journey—but what the heck is a customer’s journey, anyway? Creating a customer journey map is a simple way to visualize a customer’s (or donor’s) experience, providing a step-by-step guide detailing touch-points, interactions, and asks. Save time mapping with this quick-and-easy template!
Don’t get lost along the way. [via Unbounce]
2. Get the most out of your Google Ad 💸 grant.
Google Ads are an important tool for nonprofits looking to increase traffic to their sites and expand their audiences. Still, many organizations lack the time and resources to learn about the program and develop the most effective strategies for leveraging its benefits (the biggest one: free advertising credits for nonprofits on the Google Ads platform). Fortunately, The Fundraising Authority created a guide to Google’s Ad Grant program, outlining eligibility requirements, the application process, and how to make the most of your grant once you’re approved.
Get started with Google Ads. [via the Fundraising Authority]
3. Plan a social media calendar 📅
Thirty days has September, April, June—but how far ahead should we be scheduling social media content? How do we schedule content that has variety but is consistent? And what do we post about to fill empty schedule space? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Learn how to plan your social media and waste less time on last-minute scrambling.
Start planning. [via Databox]
4. Groovy 👉 new features in Google Workspace.
Do you have a flash of panic *every time* you share your screen in a Google Meeting? (Why does it always feel stressful?!) Google Workspace is here to calm your nerves with the “smart canvas,” a new tool that allows you to instantly share Docs, Sheets, and Slides within meetings without using screen sharing. They also launched an entire suite of updates, including the ability to start meetings within a Google Doc, emoji reacts for paragraphs, or writing assistance for when there are typos in your paragraphphph.
Read more about Google’s new smart chips. [via the Verge]
5. Keep your text readable. 📖
Why are “delete” buttons are always red? What about stop signs and stoplights? Welcome to the visual principle of contrast. How we design things matters—for style, yes, but also for function. A lack of contrast can make text unreadable, so it’s time to brush up on our User Interface skills.
Make your designs sing (instead of being ignored). [via YouTube]